Call on authorities in Brazil to protect the Guarani People
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Call on authorities in Brazil to protect the Guarani People

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John Ahni Schertow
May 26, 2010
 

The indigenous Guarani community of Kurussu Ambá is at grave risk of violence and destitution unless the Brazilian government steps in to protect the Guarani and respect their land rights.

On March 10 of this year, a local judge in Mato Grosso do Sul ordered the community’s eviction, alleging that they were illegally occupying private property.

In fact, the community is living on small portion of their ancestral land, which they reclaimed in November 2009.

In November 2007, the Ministry of Justice–along with the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, FUNAI (the Brazilian Department of Indian Affairs) and 23 Indigenous leaders–signed an agreement that committed FUNAI to identify and restore the land of more than two dozen Guarani communities, including the community of Kurussu Ambá, by April 2010.

Over the past two years, FUNAI has routinely failed to take action–in large part, due to pressure from the State government and the farming lobby, says Amnesty International.

This has left the community of Kurussu Amba with little or no alternatives.They, along with several other Guarani communities, have long since abandoned the overcrowded reservation they’ve been on since their land was stolen from them in the 1960s. Many of these communities are now living in makeshift camps, often set up beside busy highways near their ancestral land.

After living in one of these camps for four years, the community of Kurussu Amba finally decided to return home.

Following the eviction order in March, a Regional Federal Court Judge in Sao Paulo “Ruled [on April 26, 2010] that the order should be suspended for 90 days until the necessary anthropological studies to identify Kurussu Ambá lands have been carried out”, continues Amnesty International.

Given how other evictions have been carried out in Brazil, the community was relieved to hear the news. Nevertheless, they know the eviction may still be carried out (by the police or the gunmen) even if FUNAI performs the studies and confirms that it’s Guarani land.

Meanwhile, the community remains under a constant threat of violence and intimidation by the gunmen, who have killed a total of three community members since 2007, including a 70-year-old Medicine Man.

The gunmen are also blocking the community’s access to food and water; and they are “preventing FUNAI and FUNASA (Fundação Nacional de Saúde, the federal indigenous agency providing healthcare) from sending their agents into the community,” says Amnesty. “They are instead leaving food baskets and running clinics 10 kilometres away.”

Given this precarious situation, Amnesty is urging people to call on authorities in Brazil:

It may also be a good idea to encourage them to meet the terms of ILO Convention 169 as well as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Both documents have been ratified by the government of Brazil.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 16 JUNE 2010 TO:

Federal Minister of Justice
Exmo. Sr Luiz Paulo Teles Ferreira Barreto
Esplanada dos Ministérios,
Bloco “T”
70712-902 – Brasília/DF Brasil
Fax: + 55 61 2025-9556
Salutation: Exmo. Sr. Ministro

Federal Human Rights Secretary
Secretaria Especial de Direitos Humanos
Exmo. Secretário Especial
Sr. Paulo de Tarso Vannuchi
Esplanada dos Ministérios – Bloco “T” – 4º andar,
70064-900 – Brasília/DF BRAZIL
Fax: + 55 61 2025-3464
Salutation: Exmo. Sr. Secretário

And copies to:

Conselho Indigenista Missionário, (CIMI – local NGO)
CIMI Regional Mato Grosso do Sul
Av. Afonso Pena,
1557 Sala 208 Bl.B
79002-070 Campo Grande/MS BRAZIL

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